Tuesday, September 27, 2011

A Reason For 3DS Anger?

The recent 3DS event that Nintendo held was underwhelming for American viewers, no doubt. We saw demonstrations of New Love Plus, weird Japanese dancing games, and other oddities. The big draw of the night was Monster Hunter 3G and the announcement of Monster Hunter 4, both of which are niche products here in the States.

We're seeing a pile of angry articles now, complaining that 3DS users were "beta testers," that there's still no good games for it, that Kid Icarus is getting delayed, everything. Anything and everything having to do with the 3DS now sucks.

I can't entirely blame them, honestly. What started off as such a promising system has been held down by delays and retreads.

For example, let's say the launch of the 3DS was held up until August. We would have seen a massive launch with all of the games that we saw at launch already, like the updated PilotWings game, Nintendogs + Cats, and Ghost Recon. We would have had full eShop functionality, the Ocarina remake ready to go, and a quick succession of games ready almost right after launch, including Star Fox 64 3D, Super Mario 3D Land, Mario Kart 7, and then Kid Icarus Uprising in early 2012.

With that kind of lineup, it would have been a fantastic launch, one of the best ever for any system. Instead, it's been kind of a limp, weird launch that hasn't impressed anyone.

That being said, it hasn't been all bad. Early adopters have piles of free games now, and while yes, some features have been held out for a while, we still have them. I think I have another reason that people are angry, though.

On my DS, I had an R4DS card. Now before you criticize or write an angry screed in the comments section about how "piracy is killing the game industry," remember that lot of people bought flashcarts. So many people did that game manufacturers started to get wise.

Publishers started tossing in code into their games in order to glitch flashcarts or make the games simply not work using a flashcart. That required the flashcart makers to patch up the games, and around and around they went. They were so popular they were banned in Japan, although they're still freely available here.

On my flashcart, I had a Nintendo emulator, Sega Genesis emulator, Game Boy Color emulator and the ability to play GBA games. Once again, I suspect there were other people in the same boat.

It wasn't very difficult to find out about the existence of flashcarts, either. Respectable gaming websites like Kotaku and others reported on the R4DS as dutifully as they reported on George Hotz' hacking of the PS3. However, reporting about something also brings attention to it, so more people would buy the flashcarts, and around and around we went again.

OK, so what kind of people bought flashcarts? These people aren't the scenesters who spend hours a day cruising DS rom sites, but just people who want to play lots and lots of games. They're the kind of people who cruise gaming websites for info. They're able to search online and find things relatively easily. They obviously care about getting the most for their money and like to have the newest and brightest shinies to show off.

Now we go back to those who bought the 3DS at launch. Which kind of people were these? They were those who followed information about the 3DS. They like to have the newest and brightest shinies to show off. They're people who love games.

Do you see the intersect here?

I'm speaking from personal experience, but I find myself a little annoyed that I can't play all of my emulators and switch between games at will on my 3DS. I'm annoyed that my saved games don't stay with the system but stay with the cartridge. These are all things I got used to while pirating the DS.

So now I've gone from having a system where every game I wanted was free, I had all of my saved games stored on the system and had unlimited access to a back library of games to having a system where new games are $40 and I have to wait for Nintendo to release older games for the system.

Are these things the 3DS' fault? No, they're my fault. I shouldn't have pirated the DS in the first place. Does it still annoy me? Yes, yes it does. Are there ways to pirate the 3DS yet? Probably. I'm not going to look into them. I've had a good run, but I'm not doing that anymore.

Am I saying that everyone who complains about the 3DS is or was a pirate? No. Not at all. There are legitimate complaints about the 3DS as it was released. As we said, the library was dumpy and the launch kind of staggered along.

Yet, could this be part of the anger directed at the 3DS? It's no surprise that the people who are complaining about the 3DS are also trumpeting a) The PS Vita, where games will be able to be placed on memory sticks and b) iOS gaming, where games are cheap, plentiful and can be switched in and out easily.

With both of those systems, the same things you would get if you had a DS flashcart, i.e. switching between games at will and cheap games, are available in one form or another. Sure, Vita games will be expensive, but you shouldn't have to switch out games that often. Sure, iOS games aren't that deep, but they're cheap.

We'll see how this pans out, but it wouldn't surprise me. If it's true, DS piracy may not have hurt the fortunes of the DS, but it certainly may have killed the 3DS in its cradle.

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